Avanti member supports charity

Emily Williams

Avanti leader Sam Foster and parent ambassador Madeline Folsom raised more than $1,500 to support the Foothills Alliance through the Southern Regional Orientation Workshop service project this year.

The Southern Regional Orientation Workshop is attended annually by the Avanti team. While at the conference, members particiapte in workshops to grow as student orientation leaders and develop service projects for the community.

Foster, a sophomore majoring in marketing raised more than $1,500 to support the Foothills Alliance, a charity in South Carolina that provides supplies and support for victims of sexual violence and child abuse. Foster said he used the money to buy the Foothills Alliance two new desktop computers.

Foster and Madeline Folsom, a parent ambassador, worked together to collect supplies like books and clothes from organizations around campus. They had fundraisers at local restaurants to raise additional money, which they put toward the purchase of the desktops.

“We really wanted to make it the biggest community service project that the Avanti and Parent Orientation programs have ever done,” Folsom, a junior majoring in human development and family studies, said. “We feel like it wasn’t given enough effort in previous years so we wanted to work really hard on it.”

(See also “Avantis changing up program“)

The SROW service project functions like a friendly competition among the Southern schools that participate. Foster and Folsom’s team ended up winning the competition by 19,000 points.

“The way the whole community service project works is they assign points to each item that you’re supposed to bring in,” Foster said. “It got to the point where we had enough money left over that we decided it would be more helpful instead of just buying a bunch of little things to see if they had any big things they needed. They told us that they needed a couple more computers.”

Foster and Folsom served on the community service committees for their respective orientation organizations. Foster said he began planning the Foothills Alliance fundraiser in August and raised money through March of this year.

“Sam just got really passionate about working with non-profits and serving and getting the team involved with community service,” said Jerri Middleton, coordinator of orientation and special programs. “He’s very passionate about serving and getting other people excited about serving and thinking about things bigger than themselves.”

(See also “Avantis help incoming freshman“)

Foster was an Avanti last year and now works as a student coordinator of recruitment events. Middleton said he works around three hours a week in the Avanti office and helps out wherever he can in his free time.

“He is very much a servant leader,” Middleton said. “He is very good at one-on-one conversations and mentoring in smaller groups or individually. He’s very sweet and kind-hearted and a very strong leader.”

Foster will be working as with Avanti again this summer and is already planning more service projects for his team, specifically with Head Start in Alberta, Ala., and other projects around Tuscaloosa.

Folsom said the most difficult part of organizing the fundraiser was coordinating between the two offices. The two met weekly to plan and coordinate budgets.

“It was a great experience,” Folsom said. “I think the big thing was kind of thinking outside the box. When you have that many people involved in this, you have to be a little bit more creative to try and get people to come and participate. I think it worked out pretty well for us.”

(See also “University seeks Parent Ambassadors”)